A to-do list is a wonderful thing. That is of course, if you actually do what’s on it.
Whether it’s because the tasks are arduous or because they’re overwhelming, you feel them in the pit of your stomach, and even when you don’t know why you skip over them, some just have a way of never getting crossed off the list.
While most people jump to “I’m terrible” or “I’m just so lazy” when they don’t get a chore done, labeling yourself in this way, judging yourself for not getting it done, won’t get you to do it any faster. Instead, it’s probably making things worse.
Imagine yelling “you’re terrible and you’re lazy” at a kid who is struggling with getting something done. Do you think it will help them persevere and conquer? I have an 8-year-old, and I can tell you that it would not. Shame is anything but motivating. It would make the child flustered, anxious and probably even more resistant to the task at hand.
Instead, if you were resourced and mindful, you would help them figure out a way to make the task more doable. You would break it into steps such as “do one math problem and come to me,” or entice them with a payoff such as “if you get your math homework done, we will take a walk with the dogs to Larchmont after I’m done with work.”
Grown-ups would be best off doing the same for themselves.
So think about what a first step to getting the avoided task accomplished would be — the one math problem, if you will. For instance, if you’re struggling with getting your taxes together, commit to getting one set of documents ready each day for the next seven days.
Or, if you’re struggling to get a fitness routine going, reward yourself with a (COVID-safe) pedicure that you’ve been wanting but felt conflicted about spending money on, when you’ve done a certain number steps every day for a week (you can track steps on your smart phone under the health app or spring for Fitbit)
In the abstract, these techniques may not seem as satisfying as getting it all done at once, or knocking off a task just for the sake of doing it. And yet, it’s far more satisfying then passing another day without getting anything done.
Plus, as an extra motivator, remember movement begets movement. It’s literally science…who doesn’t remember that a body in motion stays in motion. Once you start accomplishing things, small or gamified as they may be, you will continue your forward movement and be unstoppable.
Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!